“Buycott” for Organic Foods
When John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, he hardly could have imagined the backlash it would receive. But some of his regular customers, many of whom are interested in sustainable growing practices and organic foods, decided to boycott the store when they read that Mackey did not support the federal government’s proposed health reforms.
The Post-Dispatch reported that the St. Louis Tea Party Coalition, a group that also opposed Obama’s health care reform, has proposed a rather fecund idea to combat the boycott: a “buycott.” This involved coalition members going to buy a week’s worth of groceries at the Whole Foods in Town and Country. Many members of the coalition were not regular Whole Foods customers, but they were willing to show their support for Mackey’s free-market health care reform ideas — and his right to express them. Whole Foods has tried to distance itself as an organization from the personal views of its CEO through a forum on its site, but this seems to have had little effect.
Mackey exercised his right to free speech when he wrote his op-ed, and some of his company’s customers exercised theirs by boycotting. But the “buycotters” are arguably the most creative in this situation. By going out of their way to shop at Whole Foods, they are “voting with their dollars.” While it may well be difficult to replace the boycotters’ dollars, a “buycott” helps make up for some of it through positive reinforcement. And, who knows? Perhaps once the health reform hoopla has ended, Whole Foods will have a few new regular customers who might not have considered patronizing the store otherwise.